This why it’s so important for hosts not only to rate appropriately, but also make it clear in the written review what the issues were. Non-IB hosts can’t even see the star ratings of guests- all we have to go on is the written reviews.
If I could see the star ratings, I would look at that in tandem with not only the written review, but how many reviews they actually had. If a guest had a 4.5 Observation of House Rules rating, but that was only after 1 or 2 reviews, I’d take it with a grain of salt. Some hosts have such a long list of micro-managing rules, that it could be the host who’s a fusspot, rather than the guest having been disrespectful. I remember reading one home-share host’s post where she was asking if she should mark the guest down on following house rules, because she had caught the guest wandering into the living room with a glass of wine. The guest hadn’t spilled it or anything, and when the host reminded her of no food or drink in the living room, the guest apologized and said she forgot. Otherwise, the host said she was a very good guest.
I’ve never travelled as an Airbnb guest, but I can imagine that guests who use Airbnb a lot could be forgiven for sometimes forgetting what the house rules are here as opposed to there. “Okay, now does she want me strip the bed and put it in the washing machine, or in the bathtub, or leave it on the bed?” as they’re rushing around trying to check out on time.
And unless a guest just has bad ratings and reviews across the board, I don’t see anything wrong with messaging the guest to say “I have some concerns about the cleanliness rating I see on your account. Would you mind sharing what happened for you to be marked down, as I would be reticent to accept a booking from a guest who didn’t clean up after themselves.” Some guests are indeed capable of learning and being better guests the next time, they just didn’t know what the expectations were, and the host didn’t make them clear.
I read a rather heart-wrenching post from a distressed guest who had been given a low rating for something- house rules or cleanliness, can’t remember. The guest said in her post that she’s autistic and grew up in a situation where it was assumed that she was incapable of learning, therefore she wasn’t taught basic life skills. She said that if the host had made it clear exactly what she wanted the guest to do and how, she would have totally complied, but she’s just not able to know what is acceptable behavior if it’s not explained to her.